Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship
Bill Northey, Secretary of Agriculture
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For Immediate Release
Friday, March 6, 2009


Contact: Tess Capps
515-281-8606 or 515/401-8282 (cell)

DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and other Midwest Secretaries of Agriculture today sent a letter to President Obama thanking him for his strong support of renewable energy and requesting the acceptance of 15 or 20 percent ethanol blends.

“Ethanol has proven to have a positive impact on the American economy by creating more jobs, increasing domestic production and adding a larger tax base,” Northey said.  “It is important we take the next step to expand the industry by increasing the current ethanol blend of 10 percent, to 15 or 20 percent.”

The nation’s ethanol producers are also urging the Obama administration to raise the 10 percent limit on ethanol in motor fuel to 15 percent or more.  Growth Energy is one of those groups.  Without a change in this limit, ethanol makers say it could be difficult to complete the congressional mandate for renewable fuel use, set forth in the 2007 energy bill.   

The full text of the Midwest Secretaries of Agriculture letter to President Obama follows here:

March 6, 2009

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to thank you for your strong support of renewable energy and respectfully request your continued leadership on this issue by encouraging the acceptance of ethanol blends beyond the current regulatory cap of 10 percent.

For more than 30 years, ethanol has had a positive impact on our economy.  Clean, affordable, domestically produced ethanol has enhanced America’s economy through job growth, increased domestic production and a larger tax base.  In 2007 alone, the ethanol industry created more than 200,000 American jobs that cannot be exported or outsourced, while contributing $47.6 billion to our GDP and generating $4.6 billion in tax revenues. 

Ethanol has environmental benefits as well.  In addition to being completely biodegradable, ethanol has been shown to dramatically reduce tailpipe emissions.  The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 13 trillion tons of greenhouse gases were avoided in 2007 due to the use of biofuels.  Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln recently announced that ethanol produced from corn can reduce GHG emissions by as much as 62 percent relative to gasoline.  As we expand cellulosic ethanol production in the coming years, even greater GHG reductions will be realized.

The EPA’s longstanding decision to limit the base blend of ethanol to 10 percent was based on 1970s science, antiquated fuel systems designs, and outdated technology.  Conversely, countries like Brazil have successfully utilized blends between E20 and E100 for decades.  The EPA implemented the E10 blend limit at a time when ethanol production capacity and conversion efficiency was a fraction of what it is today.  In the 21st century, ethanol offers a sustainable solution to our country’s energy needs, while reducing our dependency on foreign oil and addressing the serious challenge of global climate change.

The federal government embraced this concept through passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which among other things, mandated 36 billion gallons of ethanol be blended into our domestic fuel supply by 2022.  However, the current EPA regulatory cap of 10 percent ethanol hinders that opportunity.  Simply put, there is a government rule contradicting a government law.  Now is the time to move forward by increasing the base fuel blend to 15 or 20 percent ethanol. 

As you know, the American ethanol industry is under considerable financial stress.  Much of this pressure stems from the fact that ethanol, unlike oil, is held to less than 10 percent of the market.  By moving beyond the 10 percent cap, we can improve domestic investment, stimulate our economy with green jobs, and enable our country to comply with the existing Renewable Fuels Standard.

Timing is critical.  American ethanol production has nearly reached 10 percent saturation.  We must move to a base blend of 15 or 20 percent in 2009 in order to continue growing this vital industry.  By working together to promote domestic production and improve market access, we can continue to deliver a clean, renewable fuel that has a positive impact on our domestic economy.

Thank you for your leadership and support.

Bill Even                                                                   Roger Johnson                                     
South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture              North Dakota Commissioner of Agriculture
Adrian Polansky                                                           Bill Northey
Kansas Secretary of Agriculture                               Iowa Secretary of Agriculture

Gene Hugoson                                                              Don Koivisto
Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture                  Michigan Director of Agriculture

Ron de Yong                                                                Robert Boggs
Montana Director of Agriculture                                Ohio Director of Agriculture

Greg Ibach                                                                   Rod Nilsestuen
Nebraska Director of Agriculture                             Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection


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